Scarlets appoint Leigh Jones as new Rugby Performance Director

Rob LloydNews

Scarlets are delighted to announce that experienced former international coach and elite rugby operations director Leigh Jones will join the club as their new Rugby Performance Director.

With extensive experience in high-performance rugby environments both internationally and at club level, Leigh most recently led rugby operations for Leicester Tigers, including being part of the leadership team that saw them win the Gallagher Premiership in 2022.

He also spent six years with Hong Kong rugby, as a Head Coach, then Head of its Elite Rugby Programme helping them qualify for the repechage for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and reaching their highest IRB world ranking (21). Leigh was then appointed as General Manager of Rugby Operations in Hong Kong responsible for the strategic direction of both men’s and women’s 15s and 7s rugby high performance platforms.

Leigh’s wide-ranging rugby experience has also included two years as Assistant Coach with the Japan National Team under Eddie Jones where the team won the Pacific Nations Cup and achieved top 10 IRB ranking during the 2013-14 season and 2015 World Cup pool stage wins over South Africa, USA and Samoa.

Leigh’s early coaching career included coaching Wales (Defence and Forwards coach) in 2000-2002 under Graham Henry which included Scarlets Head Coach Dwayne Peel’s first call-up into the Welsh squad for a development tour of Japan and Canada in 2000.

Leigh has a MSc in Coaching Science and a PhD in Professional Coach Development from the University of Wales, Cardiff.

As Scarlets’ new Rugby Performance Director, Leigh Jones will work alongside Head Coach Dwayne Peel in helping build and deliver a winning team based on a strong vision and performance culture. He will focus on delivering the highest professional standards, systems and processes that underpin and support Scarlets’ whole rugby environment, as well as leading rugby backroom functions, future recruitment planning and alignment with the Scarlets rugby pathway.

Head Coach Dwayne Peel continues to have full responsibility for all rugby team matters on the field, including team and individual performance, game plan and model, selection and the rugby programme and will make final decisions on signing and retaining players in the squad. Dwayne reports to the Scarlets Board.

Leigh Jones said: “It is a privilege to join the Scarlets. It is a club with such a rich and successful heritage in rugby and one known and respected globally for developing some of Wales’ best players over the decades.

“The exciting part is there are more talented Scarlets players to come through in the future. I’m looking forward to playing my part in helping clear the runway to support Dwayne and his team to see this great club back where it belongs on the field.

“My role at Scarlets will be very similar to my work with Leicester Tigers, where I was responsible for overall rugby operations, across pathways, analysis, medical, physical development, recruitment and women’s rugby working closely to support the Head Coach.

“At this point in my career, my focus and motivation is using my experience to help develop people – both coaches and rugby support staff, equipping and supporting them to be the best they can be and helping them reach their potential.

“I am excited and keen to get started and look forward to working with the coaches and players when pre-season starts in early July. It’s good to be working back in Welsh rugby at a time when there’s a lot of hard work ahead, important contributions to be made and significant challenges to face.”

Scarlets Head Coach Dwayne Peel said: “Leigh has a depth and range of experience delivering world-class rugby performance programmes so he understands fully what it takes to build a winning team. We are looking forward to working closely with him and for the knowledge and experience he’ll bring to our rugby environment.

“We are working hard on building a competitive squad, with exciting new players keen to make an impact joining us this summer plus we are retaining a group of key Scarlets leaders on the field and our best emerging talent. With Leigh’s appointment as well, there’s a lot to be excited and positive about as Scarlets ahead of a new season.”

Scarlets Managing Director Jon Daniels said: “We are delighted to welcome Leigh to Scarlets and believe his most recent experience and success in high performance rugby environments with Leicester Tigers, Japan and Hong Kong Rugby will be hugely valuable to our rugby set-up. We look forward to his contribution as we intensify our focus and investment into our rugby operations and build a competitive squad for the future.”

Leigh Jones, 64, will join up with Dwayne Peel, his coaching team and the Scarlets squad in early July as the pre-season gets underway.